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Sorrosyss
02-04-2016, 01:05 AM
http://i.imgur.com/gE7rBMm.png

Over the last weekend, I spent a great many hours trying out The Division Beta from Ubisoft. I found it quite a positive experience, and whilst I enjoyed playing the game, at the back of my mind there was an overwhelming wish that I was somehow playing a new Assassin's Creed game.

I have highlighted previously (http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/1206217-Assassin-s-Creed-Online-The-Multiplayer-Future-is-coming) about how I would like to see the multiplayer portion of the AC franchise overhauled. I enjoyed the traditional competitive multiplayer of the older games, but it is pretty clear that for the majority of fans there was little enthusiasm. For example, on the the PSN Trophy Statistics for Black Flag on PS4, only 7.4% of the player base modified their multiplayer ability set, and only 1.0% actually reached Level 55. Those are tiny amounts of players showing both a lack of interest and engagement amongst the userbase for the feature.

Whilst The Division is fundamentally a multiplayer shooter, it still contains solo player elements. As such, in my view alot of the following features could be applied to Assassin's Creed both for its single and multiplayer portions.


Features from The Division


RPG Mechanics

http://i.imgur.com/zpGSzPt.png

The Division is a shared world online game, much akin to Destiny. As a result it uses a great many RPG elements, that you traditionally find in MMORPGs. It primarily revolves around a loot system, that both empowers your character and combined with the XP levelling system helps provide a sense of progression.

These kind of mechanics help to add a layer of interest to your gameplay, and it is certainly something that Assassin's Creed has slowly been warming its way towards for some titles now. If you look at Syndicate for example, it already shares many RPG mechanics;

- Quest Givers
- XP meters
- Enemies with numbered levels
- Dialogue Options (Dreadful Crimes)
- Investigation using a sixth sense
- Hidden collectibles
- Gear and weapons with stats
- Talent trees
- Crafting

It has been widely suggested that the 2017 AC game has been heavily inspired by Witcher 3, and if The Division is any indicator, it may pave the way forward for Assassin's Creed's future single and multiplayer progression mechanics.

So how exactly might this work?


Character Creation

http://i.imgur.com/jjZ5bMJ.png

The Division gives you a character creation mode. The ability to create your own character, and make your own personal stamp on an IP is a pretty exciting prospect. When we look at the competitive multiplayer of the previous Assassin's Creed games, we were pretty much tied to playing as templates of existing characters.

Inclusivity is a key word in the gaming industry over the past few years, as there has been a push to try and get away from the white male leads that usually dominate games. Being able to create a character of your own gender and race is something that alot of players feel strongly about, and there is mounting evidence (http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelthomsen/2015/06/26/survey-finds-majority-of-videogame-players-want-gender-and-ethnic-inclusivity/) that such features are of great interest to players who may sometimes feel marginalised. In short, such a feature may ultimately attract more sales.

The consistent argument against this method for the single player experience is that it would prevent us having characters with any distinguishable identity. Would Connor still be the same character if he did not appear as a native american? This is very much a valid point, but it can be handled well if properly planned for. I always like to cite the example of Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series. Yes, the character was traditionally portrayed in pretty much all advertising as a young white male. However, players always had the option to customise the character to an appearance they chose - even down to changing the gender. The story played out pretty much exactly the same, regardless of your appearance, whilst the marketing team still had their default appearance to use in promotional material.

If we applied a similar approach to AC Syndicate, it could have played out quite differently. Many players have spoken of their distaste with the dual protagonist mechanic, and that they would have preferred to play as either Jacob or Evie exclusively. If we used the same approach as Mass Effect had done, the story could have been adjusted to function for either twin. Dialogue could easily have been changed to just state "Frye", and funnily enough several of the NPCs currently refer to the player character in this fashion. The game Dragon Age 2, actually had a mechanic where if you customised the main character, your in-game sibling also changed race to match yours. This could easily have been applied to the Frye twins as well.

I digress though. For the multiplayer portion, there is a pretty obvious setting for character creation - the Present Day. The much maligned setting would be perfect for a persistent social hub, where you create your character in the AC universe. Adding Assassins and Templars as playable opposing factions is an obvious design choice, giving us perfect set up for PVP options. With the Helix and Animus technology, it is then but a small leap to varied maps strewn across many different time periods and locations. (Your ancestor of course looking just like your Present Day character).

As with The Division, a persistent open world allows for players to get away from standard templates, and actually have a customised journey that feels far more personal to each user.


Appearance Tab

http://i.imgur.com/84Coua0.png

Speaking of personalisation, I was overjoyed to find an appearance tab in The Division. In short, it allows you to control your character's appearance by equipping cosmetic items, whilst ignoring your actual statistic driven gear.

This has long been a criticism within Assassin's Creed. Unity made the best attempt at a system by adding statistics to many varied items, but it was fundamentally flawed from the outset. Any game with statistics of this kind, will inevitably force the player to adopt to using the items that give you the highest statistical benefit. Thus within Unity you would often end up stuck with the top tier gear as your appearance, purely out of necessity. It was not ideal, and probably the reason that alot of people chose to use the outfits instead to cover over their Arno with something a bit more pleasurable to the eye. As a result though, all of the lower tier gear inevitably ended up being never used. I feel this was a primary reason why Ubisoft stated that nobody used customization. Not that it was not an engaging feature, just that we could not use it as we wish - namely to personalise our appearance as we see fit.

Syndicate tried to get away from this somewhat by making outfits the standard gear, but even then we still were forced to use the best weapons with no choice over their appearance. If we were to apply an appearance tab to AC, we could quite easily fix the much debated hood issue, with players fully able to display hoods up or down, top hats etc. Everyone has their perfect Assassin appearance in their mind, therefore it would be nice to actually recreate that for once.


Exploration

http://i.imgur.com/GBJhRzA.png

Speaking of cosmetic items. Something that The Division does very well is to reward exploration. I would often find myself wandering around into buildings, and constantly coming across containers that held cosmetic items. "Oooh, a beanie hat" I exclaimed whilst rifling through someone's wardrobe. Sometimes I even found a weapon upgrade.

This is the way that AC needs to have players explore the open world maps. Not by littering icons across the mini map, but having players on their own volition looking in all corners of the world for hidden gems. By offering new cosmetic looks, or new hidden weapons, it would be far more of an incentive to engage with the environment rather than just randomly buying items from a shop. In fairness, both Unity and Syndicate did place some outfits and weapons across the map, but in my view this needs to increased ten fold, and to get rid of the non contextual items which even sound as boring as they are to collect. (Wee, pressed flowers...) Within The Division I even came across a few items that started new quest chains. I'd love to see something like this within AC, but with a bit more interest than trying to solve riddles or finding hidden glyphs.

The Snowdrop engine used by The Division had some pretty amazing weather effects that I'd love to see implemented into AC, such as the very thick fog that would sometimes come over the city. I found it a very stable engine all around, with a solid frame rate - though I suppose it doesn't have hundreds of NPCs walking around so it may be unfair to compare it to AC's AnvilNext.


Co-op

http://i.imgur.com/wkutcTE.png

The AC franchise briefly flirted with the Co-op concept, first with the Wolfpack mode of AC3, and more recently with Unity's dedicated co-op missions. What I liked about co-op within The Division was its seamless nature. I played with a friend later in the beta, and I was impressed how we were able to wander directly into story missions and different areas without any loading screens. It really adds to your immersion.

Being able to play the story missions with a friend is something that should have been added to AC a long time ago. Seeing it work in The Division so well is an example of how it could be implemented, but there are others - most notably the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, which even supports dialogue chains for multiple players at once. Being able to team up on some AC missions could be enormous fun. The Division uses a difficulty setting to give you higher rewards, and this too could be added for when players want to play together. Can you imagine fighting the Legendary Ships of Black Flag with two of you working together?


The Dark Zone - Adaptive Playstyles

http://i.imgur.com/N4H0IUq.png

The Dark Zone is probably the most talked about feature of The Division. I personally thought it was really good fun. In summary it is a portion of the map, that freely allows players to attack each other - becoming rogue - should you so choose. If you do so, everybody on the map can attack you without consequence. However, there are technically four playstyles you can adopt within the Dark Zone;

- PVE Solo Play
- PVE Group Play
- PVP Solo Play (Rogue)
- PVP Group Play (Rogue)

Over several hours I was able to play each one of these playstyles, and I found it tremendously exciting to switch what I was doing reactively. At first, like all first timers, I thought it was a typical deathmatch, so I ended up attacking people on sight. This often resulted in my demise shortly after! Following this I chose to play it safe, and spent awhile seeking loot from powerful NPCs in the area, and managed to extract some items purely on my own. Then a friend joined me, and we did more of the same, but the map actively adjusted to us by adding more NPCs to areas where we visited together. This really impressed me. (After this we then turned rogue for awhile and tried to loot others, again, did not end well!)

The reactive combination of playstyles, and the seamlessness of it all really made me think that a similar kind of hub for Assassin's Creed could really work very well. We kind of already have a similar system in the notoriety system, where guards/players could detect you and attack you on site. With this played out on a larger scale, we could see a real broad range of players with both PVE and PVP players breaching the genres to achieve their aims.


Base Building

http://i.imgur.com/PKwt2eE.png

Admittedly this is something that AC has had for quite some time. In The Division you can build up your own base, but to do so you have to engage on varied quest lines to recruit new staff, whilst gathering resources to improve the base and unlock perks.

For Black Flag and Rogue, we had the ship as our base. This worked well, as for me it formed another kind of progression - as you saw the ship slowing improving and felt the benefits out in the field. For Unity and Syndicate, alot of this was just shoehorned down into tooltips and UI choices, and its a great shame as it really does help attach you to the world.

Within the Present Day setting, we could possibly have our own apartment that we could upgrade and personalise to our desires. Or as with The Division, we might see our own instance of the Assassin (or Templar) headquarters slowly growing in size and power.



Features from For Honor


Melee Combat Overhaul

http://i.imgur.com/2ePE0ie.png

For Honor is another upcoming Ubisoft title, that involves a hack and slash multiplayer component. The title really pushes swordplay as its primary focus, something that the AC series was well known for.

AC has traditionally used a lock system to target enemies, with the camera often zooming out to cater for your combat viewpoint. For Honor differs, in that in close combat duelling it zooms the camera in, and gives you a much more direct position to try and attack your target. It also offers an active guard system, where players can actually choose where they wish their next sword swing to strike on their opponent. If you opponent is guarding to the right, you swing for their left. etc. It evidently adds another level of realism, and really could help overhaul AC's fighting mechanics to something a bit more raw and interesting.


Enemy AI

http://i.imgur.com/QLfwQB3.png

An oft criticized component of AC is the enemy AI. How many times have you seen a group of enemies run up to you, only to surround you in a circle and attack you one at a time?

"After you."
"No, after you."

Ironically, in Syndicate an NPC even exclaims not to attack the player character one at a time - yet it still happens.

What I like about For Honor is that it shows what a true battle should look like. If you run into a crowd of enemies, they all attack you at once, trying to swarm you down. In my view this is far more realistic, and it would certainly make AC's combat more interesting if we had to deal with multiple enemies at once constantly. Some of my fondest memories of Brotherhood was chaining together multiple counter kills, as I always felt it made the Assassin look like the hand to hand master that they should be. Such a system, where you are constantly countering and attacking as For Honor offers, is something of great interest.



Ubisoft and Living Worlds

http://i.imgur.com/zu9jwLq.png

In 2013, Ubisoft stated their intent (http://www.polygon.com/2013/7/18/4532322/why-ubisoft-thinks-gamers-will-want-always-online-games) to make their IPs "Living Worlds" - offering a connected experience between single and multiplayer. In short, meaning the game is always online. We've seen this with The Crew, The Division, and with the upcoming Ghost Recon Wildlands.

Ubisoft has very much given itself a deserved reputation for open world games, but it appears that their long term plans are finally starting to pay off. The market that was traditionally for MMORPGs, where players had a persistent platform of opportunities, is rapidly being absorbed into shared world online games - the most obvious recent examples being Destiny and GTA Online.

As the flagship franchise for Ubisoft, Assassin's Creed is now conspicuously absent from the living worlds that Ubisoft's IP catalogue offers. It was previously suggested that The Division and For Honor were technical test beds for future AC games, and I suppose there is some evidence pointing towards that - For Honor runs on AnvilNext for example.

Having played The Division I am now convinced that a shared single and multiplayer experience can be the future of the Assassin's Creed franchise. Will it replace the traditional story driven releases? Maybe. If not, I can certainly see the multiplayer portion becoming a distinct spin off title. After all, Ubisoft has given the Tom Clancy universe multiple spin offs in of itself. (Rainbox Six, Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell etc) If such a title were released, it would need a constant stream of updates, and have to avoid segregating the player base by using map packs. Looking at the proposed updates for The Division, Ubisoft seems more than prepared though.

Ubisoft is clearly leaning towards the living world path for their future titles. I can't help but feel that Assassin's Creed needs to get on board the bandwagon.

##########
UPDATE 1: It has since been revealed that the Assassin's Creed team now has access to the Snowdrop engine used by The Division. Hmm! (Source (http://www.finder.com.au/gaming/the-divisions-dark-zone-experience-could-turn-up-in-assassins-creed))

Update 2 - 9th March 2016

Polygon has posted an article about Ubisoft's future plans.

http://www.polygon.com/features/2016/3/8/11179934/ubisoft-division-interview-future-watch-dogs-2

The mantra of connected worlds appears to be repeated. Here are some choice quotes;


"The Division isn't just Ubisoft's next game, it's the company's future"


"Internally, I've heard people saying that for Ubisoft there will be a 'before The Division' and an 'after The Division,'" Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot told Polygon in a recent interview. "That signifies how incredible we think the game is and how much we think it has to offer to players.

"The Division is a reference point for our future, and we certainly hope it is a game players will love."


"We were not the first to make an open world game, but we quickly realized that open worlds gave players much more freedom and choice, and were much more fun," he said. "We also saw that we were only at the beginning of unlocking the potential of what open world games could offer. [Ubisoft chief creative officer Serge Hascoet] had a vision of creating worlds as playgrounds, full of systems and toys that let the players have more personal experiences they would be eager to share with friends and the community."

Ubisoft also saw the potential to empower open worlds and sandbox play by adding to those experiences a persistent online connection between worlds and players.

"When players are connected, they can meet up with friends or meet new people who share the same interests," Guillemot said. "They can play together, challenge themselves and also help each other. People are spending more and more time in these bigger and bigger games, and often they want to share their experiences, play an active role or feel recognized. These are important motivations for many of our players, and they're some of the reasons people keep coming back and spending more time in these types of games."


"Assassin's Creed has always been ambitious in its production and we have been bold in pushing innovations in many aspects of our games and specifically on the online side with Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and the birth of the PvP mode, with Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag and its asynchronous mechanics or with Assassin's Creed Unity," Lambert said. "As developers we need to ask ourselves, 'What do we need to put in place to reach our main objective,' which for us, is to better immerse our players in our universes."


"There will still eventually be new versions or sequels for these big, connected, multiplayer games," she said. "What's changed is that instead of releasing a game, having people play and move on after a few weeks, and then starting to think about a sequel, we now plan for regularly delivering post-launch content and services that keep players engaged and entertained in the game for months or even years after the initial release.

"If it works well, it means players are getting more fun and value for their money and can stay engaged with a community that enjoys sharing these experiences. It also means we can take more time to decide on whether we should do a sequel, what it will add to the game's universe, and if players will see it as innovative and different enough that a large part of the community will embrace it. That's the new approach that Ubisoft is focusing on now."


"Look at the biggest hits of the past few years," he said. "GTA, Fallout, Destiny, Watch Dogs; outside of Call of Duty and sports titles, the most successful and acclaimed games are open worlds. In 2008, open world games had less than 10 percent of the market. Now it's 33 percent. And almost all of the biggest and most popular titles have multiplayer or co-op options for players to enjoy if they want.

"We are in a good position to capitalize on these trends. We've got great franchises in place with Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs and Rainbow Six. We're launching The Division, and we have Ghost Recon, For Honor and another new IP on the horizon. Now we have to deliver on all of these great franchises and make sure they have the level of quality and innovation that gets players excited and coming back for more."

Xstantin
02-04-2016, 01:36 AM
I pretty much ignore every stat in Unity and Syndicate if I think something looks better (I really wish there was an option to equip cover art Arno look simply as an outfit for instance), but it'll be awesome to see something similar to the Division.

Farlander1991
02-04-2016, 01:14 PM
Nice post and thoughts, although I think that your initial argument (which seemed to be the basis for this) is flawed, regarding the popularity of AC4 multiplayer.

You say that only 7.4% of the players have the achievement for playing multiplayer with their own set-up of abilities. When you put it like that, it seems like a small number indeed, but here's a couple things to consider: there's 2.63 million PS4 copies sold (with digital there's even more, but digital copies aren't being openly tracked so we can't really use them as a basis). So that's at least 200 000 players on PS4 who were playing multiplayer. If we presume that the percentage is the same on all platforms, the amount of people trying out multiplayer would've been a million users (and again, it would be more considering there's no open information on digital copies, so we can count only retail).

A million of players for a, let's face it, very niche mode (AC multiplayer is far from action-paced or mainstream) that's just a side package of a game the main focus of which is the single-player open-world experience (which is why people buy it in the first place)... that's actually not bad, really.

And the 1% that gets to level 55 doesn't really show anything about engagement, to be honest. It's the maximum level. I've spent about 50 hours in ACR and AC3 multiplayer modes each (so you can call me VERY engaged) and yet didn't reach the maximum level possible. And there's probably tons of other players like me. There's no way to know based on that achievement how much time in general the populace has spent in multiplayer, but I would assume, given how AC multiplayer is mostly talked positively about around the net, it would be mostly a considerable amount of time.

Sorrosyss
02-04-2016, 02:05 PM
Hey Farlander, thanks for your points. I'd agree with the figures you are proposing. I mean, I spent a considerable time in the multiplayer myself, reaching max level in each title - but the purpose of the post wasn't really to belittle the old multiplayer, more to highlight how much better I think it can become.

I freely admit that the trophy statistics are not the best measure for engagement, but it's the only data I could find that gave us any kind of indication of player engagement. As you state, there likely are still hundreds of thousands of players still playing it, and that is not bad. However, the ability to customise your ability set is something that occurred really early in Black Flag's multiplayer from memory, and if we turn the stat on its head, we are basically saying that over 90% of players didn't continue to play the multiplayer to that point. If we scale that up across all platforms, (over 11 million copies sold I think) we are talking ten million players.

The Division is a brand new IP using the living world theme, yet they still have confidence that the model it uses is good enough to retain its playerbase. But with the AC user base so large, there is a definite niche there that I think could be appealed to with a similar overhaul. I suppose The Division is a litmus test as to what happens next, so I personally hope it is successful for AC's sake.

MikeFNY
02-04-2016, 03:00 PM
Nicely written and structured, Sorrosyss, I'll put my two cents in on some of your raised points.

Character Creation Mode

I understand the logic behind the idea but as you correctly pointed out it would make very little sense to for example play a blond pale man with blue eyes when the character was born and raised in Italy, or on an island. It works for a game like Fallout III where the background of the protagonist is generic and the fact that it is predominantly a first-person type of game but for a game like AC I would find it a little bit awkward.

The game would also have to change the dialogue, son vs daughter, he vs she, not to mention the removal of one of the few things that has never changed in the series: one unique character, for all.

I would develop something like this for the multiplayer version of the game, if there will be any.


Appearance Tab

Here I agree. Both Unity and Syndicate gave you plenty of weapons and armour to choose from but in the end how many did we use? Many were there just for eye candy. I lost count of all the missions I completed where the reward was a new weapon, only not use it because I already owned a better weapon. Give me a reason to go after a weapon, for instance I like the idea of using a weapon to craft a new, better weapon a la the Witcher or Fallout.


Exploration

We agree again. The gold chests in Unity and Syndicate, at the end of the day, had to be collected like all other collectibles spread across the map. It would be nicer if for example as you're wandering around you see an icon indicating a dialogue that leads to a collectible, like two children saying how their father keeps a valuable sword with the dialogue giving out hints where to find this collectible.

Also make me feel part of the world. I felt part of AC1, I felt part of AC2, AC:B and AC:R but since Black Flag(I skipped ACIII) I don't feel part of the world. Two games where I really felt part of the world as if I really belonged there are Far Cry 3 and 4, especially the latter. When someone asked me to do something, I felt that I had to do it because I really felt the person was in need of help. When someone greeted me with "Hi, Ajay!", it felt sincere and when I was just roaming around and overheard two people talking about the island, again, I felt part of the whole thing.

In recent AC games I never felt that way.


Base Building

Absolutely, the idea behind the Monteriggioni villa was also nice but I definitely agree with you. Have a place, a base that you can customise. If you're the stealth type of player you can hire someone who will always be at the base ready to give you new phantom blades or smoke bombs. If you're the combat type of player you can hire someone who will always be ready to repair your sword. The possibilities are endless.

We may not be on the same wavelength in respect to character customisation but different base for different players is an idea I would like. Give me a place I can call home, it will be unique and it would make sense if the next game will span across multiple cities, to have that special place in a city you like that you can indeed call base, or home.


Enemy AI

I prefer stealth so I will skip this one if not to go back to your "Enemies with numbered levels" comment. Yes, in Syndicate enemies have numbered levels but what for? In Unity you could hit a weak enemy anywhere with a phantom blade and he would still die yet you had to head shot kill those strong thugs else they would detect you. I don't remember this in Syndicate, or maybe I just forgot about it. My point is, give me a reason to believe the numbered level on top of the enemy. It makes no sense if the only difference between enemies is their appearance.

There should be weak enemies, strong enemies, very strong enemies, enemies on horses like Brotherhood, you name it. I understand that if you take cover and kill an enemy then the level becomes just a number but maybe the strength of the enemy could lie in his armour. A heavily-armoured enemy wearing a helmet can only be killed from short distance and with a special type of phantom blade. A weak enemy can be killed from a longer distance and again, without the need of a head shot and of a strong, upgraded phantom blade.

In Syndicate I ended up beating almost every mission and side mission with one plan. Go up, analyse the situation with eagle vision, take off the snipers and move on to the rest. There was very little thought involved if not to keep an eye on multiple enemies to understand if double air assassination is an option. I would like missions to require more thought and different enemies could help achieve this.


To conclude, it seems we are getting more and more threads like this one and I must say I'm starting to love them but could it be that we are subconsciously admitting that the game, the series we so much love does indeed require a complete revamp as hinted in the Egypt thread?

Farlander1991
02-04-2016, 03:14 PM
However, the ability to customise your ability set is something that occurred really early in Black Flag's multiplayer from memory, and if we turn the stat on its head, we are basically saying that over 90% of players didn't continue to play the multiplayer to that point.

Well, no, we are not saying that, the biggest reason being we don't know how many of those 90% started the multiplayer at all. The thing about AC is that the focus is single-player open-world experience - that's what gamers are buying it for, and most don't even care to look at the multiplayer. Which is not a point against multiplayer's engagement, just what the AC series is about. With that in mind, 10% player base in a niche side mode that's not part of the main experience is a very big number that actually shows the mode's success rather than failure.

Comparing AC's situation to Division though can also lead to not entirely accurate arguments. Division is an MMO shooter, it's marketed as that, and it will acquire and retain the player base that are interested in online-only persistent MMO worlds with third person shooter mechanics. So, yeah, its multiplayer will, technically, retain more people, but then again those are also people who are getting Division for the purpose of getting the experience it provides. AC, as I mentioned earlier, is bought for the single-player open world experience. If we'd compare it to the Division, we'd need to compare it to something like a single-player offline-only campaign as then it would be similarly detached from the main experience like AC's multiplayer was.

Jessigirl2013
02-05-2016, 08:27 PM
The base building sounds interesting, I enjoyed the villa in ACII but since then its always seemed dull.
The café theatre in Unity was also interesting, but the missions were pitiful and forgettable.
Not only that but it hardly had any upgrades.

Syndicate was a definite improvement with the train missions as IMO they were great but there were hardly any of them.:cool:

LionHeart XXII
02-05-2016, 08:31 PM
Nice Post man! You basically just described my dream AC game. Totally agree with the Mass effect elements they could bring in. However the main flaw I see in this is time. firstly, Whether we like it or not, AC has been on a yearly cycle, and even if they have a separate team work on the game however many years, they would never have enough time to do this game unless they put their full time and energy into it. I've loved and played all the games since the first one, but the latest games have definitely seemed somewhat....automated, if that makes sense. secondly, for a game like this they would have to know they would be able to get a lot of buy in from the gaming community, and again, unfortunately right now, the AC brand is a little tarnished. The yearly releases have taking their tole, and because of that, I dont think the general gaming community will take AC serious for a long time. Like people have said for a while, and as much I dont necessarily want it, AC needs a break. Maybe a couple years off before they could bring a game like that out. If nothing else to shake off some of the haters. But overall, I really enjoyed the game you envisioned here

Sorrosyss
02-20-2016, 04:24 PM
Interesting article going around the news sites. It would suggest that the Assassin's Creed team now has access to the Snowdrop Engine used by The Division. Pretty exciting!


The Division is a spectacularly beautiful game, with a spectacular cool new multiplayer experience in the Dark Zone. It’s all driven by the Snowdrop Engine, which was built from the ground-up for The Division. The aim was to capture the team’s impression of an eerie, desolate New York where a pandemic has driven a societal collapse leaving the few survivors to battle the elements and each other. The chilling atmosphere sees dynamic snowstorms blow through a landscape that changes with the time of day, but it’s the studio’s sleight-of-hand around the Dark Zone that has us most impressed.

The Dark Zone is a player-versus-player competitive multiplayer zone in the middle of a grander map of Midtown New York that also includes a much larger player-versus-environment campaign zone. When you move from the campaign area into the competitive multiplayer, it happens seamlessly. There is no menu to go through or matchmaking to worry about. You can go from single player, to multiplayer, and back again at will and with ease. It’s a perfect fit for the setting and tone of the game, but we can also instantly imagine this technology unfolding in other Ubisoft titles.

“Internally we try to share as much technology as possible between the studios,” head of IP at Ubisoft Massive, Martin Hultberg, explained to finder.com.au during a recent press event for the game in Times Square, New York.

“It’s just more efficient that way. In our case we developed the Snowdrop Engine from the ground-up because we needed middleware that could run on the new consoles and PC, while doing everything we wanted to do with the open world, the weather, time of day and such features. Now we’ve made that engine available to other studios, and not just the Clancy teams. Any Ubisoft team can use Snowdrop now.”

The idea of dynamic weather, day/night cycles, gang-mentality AI and destructible environments filtering into other Ubisoft games is certainly exciting. Especially given they are used to drive emergent gameplay sequences where the sandbox AI ecosystem reacts unpredictably as the features are randomised or player-driven.

But what about the concept of having future Ubisoft titles ditch the divide between multiplayer and campaign and allow the two to co-exist in the same play state. Imagine moving into an area of the next Assassin’s Creed, where suddenly other human players lurk amongst the crowd with their own motivations and agendas? Imagine a game that, regardless of genre, can transition between being an MMO or a single player campaign on demand.


Source: http://www.finder.com.au/gaming/the-divisions-dark-zone-experience-could-turn-up-in-assassins-creed

LoyalACFan
02-20-2016, 09:52 PM
Good post, Sorrosyss :) I'll do my best to keep this organized.


RPG Mechanics

The Division is a shared world online game, much akin to Destiny. As a result it uses a great many RPG elements, that you traditionally find in MMORPGs. It primarily revolves around a loot system, that both empowers your character and combined with the XP levelling system helps provide a sense of progression.

These kind of mechanics help to add a layer of interest to your gameplay, and it is certainly something that Assassin's Creed has slowly been warming its way towards for some titles now. If you look at Syndicate for example, it already shares many RPG mechanics;

- Quest Givers
- XP meters
- Enemies with numbered levels
- Dialogue Options (Dreadful Crimes)
- Investigation using a sixth sense
- Hidden collectibles
- Gear and weapons with stats
- Talent trees
- Crafting

It has been widely suggested that the 2017 AC game has been heavily inspired by Witcher 3, and if The Division is any indicator, it may pave the way forward for Assassin's Creed's future single and multiplayer progression mechanics.

You've listed a lot of Syndicate's RPG elements as evidence that the series could do well in the RPG form, but to me, every one of those points were flaws that broke my immersion. Talent trees just remove abilities that we've always had and sell them back to us. Dialogue options felt stilted and unconvincing.Hidden rewards are lame, just glorified collectibles.The XP meters and leveling system were just irritating; they added no challenge or sense of natural progression, they simply artificially restricted you from content until you accrued enough points. And I really don't understand why everyone is such a fan of crafting; it's actually one of my biggest pet peeves in games. "Oh, you don't happen to be carrying 5 bear hides? Well, if you want to craft that fancy new hat, you better go hunting, son." It was especially crappy in Syndicate where the crafting materials aren't really even thematically related to anything relevant, it was just some random junk that a menu told you that you owned after doing some inconsequential side quest.





Character Creation

The Division gives you a character creation mode. The ability to create your own character, and make your own personal stamp on an IP is a pretty exciting prospect. When we look at the competitive multiplayer of the previous Assassin's Creed games, we were pretty much tied to playing as templates of existing characters.

Inclusivity is a key word in the gaming industry over the past few years, as there has been a push to try and get away from the white male leads that usually dominate games. Being able to create a character of your own gender and race is something that alot of players feel strongly about, and there is mounting evidence (http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelthomsen/2015/06/26/survey-finds-majority-of-videogame-players-want-gender-and-ethnic-inclusivity/) that such features are of great interest to players who may sometimes feel marginalised. In short, such a feature may ultimately attract more sales.

The consistent argument against this method for the single player experience is that it would prevent us having characters with any distinguishable identity. Would Connor still be the same character if he did not appear as a native american? This is very much a valid point, but it can be handled well if properly planned for. I always like to cite the example of Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series. Yes, the character was traditionally portrayed in pretty much all advertising as a young white male. However, players always had the option to customise the character to an appearance they chose - even down to changing the gender. The story played out pretty much exactly the same, regardless of your appearance, whilst the marketing team still had their default appearance to use in promotional material.

If we applied a similar approach to AC Syndicate, it could have played out quite differently. Many players have spoken of their distaste with the dual protagonist mechanic, and that they would have preferred to play as either Jacob or Evie exclusively. If we used the same approach as Mass Effect had done, the story could have been adjusted to function for either twin. Dialogue could easily have been changed to just state "Frye", and funnily enough several of the NPCs currently refer to the player character in this fashion. The game Dragon Age 2, actually had a mechanic where if you customised the main character, your in-game sibling also changed race to match yours. This could easily have been applied to the Frye twins as well.

I digress though. For the multiplayer portion, there is a pretty obvious setting for character creation - the Present Day. The much maligned setting would be perfect for a persistent social hub, where you create your character in the AC universe. Adding Assassins and Templars as playable opposing factions is an obvious design choice, giving us perfect set up for PVP options. With the Helix and Animus technology, it is then but a small leap to varied maps strewn across many different time periods and locations. (Your ancestor of course looking just like your Present Day character).

As with The Division, a persistent open world allows for players to get away from standard templates, and actually have a customised journey that feels far more personal to each user.


This is the one that I'm most strongly opposed to. Character creation in multiplayer is fine and dandy, but it would be a train wreck in single player. AC is a very lore- and continuity-heavy series, and it requires a defined protagonist for several reasons. Most importantly, it's a series about history. In your example of Mass Effect, you have a futuristic, fictional society that's pretty much egalitarian, at least as far as the humans go. Shepard's race, gender, or sexual orientation aren't really consequential. Whereas if you're making a game set in a real historical setting, all of that DOES matter to a huge degree. Shepard's physical characteristics don't matter, but Ezio is a fundamentally different character if he's black. Or if Altair is a Jew. Or if Connor is white. Or if Edward is a woman. It would be impossible to write an authentic-feeling plot that would work interchangeably for a Muslim black man or a Latina lesbian in Victorian London. It can't be done. If you try, it'll be so generic and unconvincing that nobody will care about it. It's not a matter of just rewriting a couple of lines of dialogue. I mean, I guess you could make the case for a mechanic that let you customize just the protagonist's facial structure a la MGS5, but then you'd most likely just end up with a hideous mush of human flesh instead of a professionally modeled character. Character creation = blegh.


I had a great big post that responded to every one of your points, but my PC crashed and this is all that it auto-saved, and I don't feel like retyping it all :p

TL;DR version, can we just wait until The Division and For Honor come out before we make this kind of thread? For all we know they could both be dogs**t.

Sorrosyss
03-09-2016, 11:47 AM
As The Division is now out, its interesting to see Polygon has posted an article about Ubisoft's future plans. AC is mentioned a fair few times.

http://www.polygon.com/features/2016/3/8/11179934/ubisoft-division-interview-future-watch-dogs-2

The mantra of connected worlds appears to be repeated. Here are some choice quotes;


"The Division isn't just Ubisoft's next game, it's the company's future"


"Internally, I've heard people saying that for Ubisoft there will be a 'before The Division' and an 'after The Division,'" Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot told Polygon in a recent interview. "That signifies how incredible we think the game is and how much we think it has to offer to players.

"The Division is a reference point for our future, and we certainly hope it is a game players will love."


"We were not the first to make an open world game, but we quickly realized that open worlds gave players much more freedom and choice, and were much more fun," he said. "We also saw that we were only at the beginning of unlocking the potential of what open world games could offer. [Ubisoft chief creative officer Serge Hascoet] had a vision of creating worlds as playgrounds, full of systems and toys that let the players have more personal experiences they would be eager to share with friends and the community."

Ubisoft also saw the potential to empower open worlds and sandbox play by adding to those experiences a persistent online connection between worlds and players.

"When players are connected, they can meet up with friends or meet new people who share the same interests," Guillemot said. "They can play together, challenge themselves and also help each other. People are spending more and more time in these bigger and bigger games, and often they want to share their experiences, play an active role or feel recognized. These are important motivations for many of our players, and they're some of the reasons people keep coming back and spending more time in these types of games."


"Assassin's Creed has always been ambitious in its production and we have been bold in pushing innovations in many aspects of our games and specifically on the online side with Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and the birth of the PvP mode, with Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag and its asynchronous mechanics or with Assassin's Creed Unity," Lambert said. "As developers we need to ask ourselves, 'What do we need to put in place to reach our main objective,' which for us, is to better immerse our players in our universes."


"There will still eventually be new versions or sequels for these big, connected, multiplayer games," she said. "What's changed is that instead of releasing a game, having people play and move on after a few weeks, and then starting to think about a sequel, we now plan for regularly delivering post-launch content and services that keep players engaged and entertained in the game for months or even years after the initial release.

"If it works well, it means players are getting more fun and value for their money and can stay engaged with a community that enjoys sharing these experiences. It also means we can take more time to decide on whether we should do a sequel, what it will add to the game's universe, and if players will see it as innovative and different enough that a large part of the community will embrace it. That's the new approach that Ubisoft is focusing on now."


"Look at the biggest hits of the past few years," he said. "GTA, Fallout, Destiny, Watch Dogs; outside of Call of Duty and sports titles, the most successful and acclaimed games are open worlds. In 2008, open world games had less than 10 percent of the market. Now it's 33 percent. And almost all of the biggest and most popular titles have multiplayer or co-op options for players to enjoy if they want.

"We are in a good position to capitalize on these trends. We've got great franchises in place with Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs and Rainbow Six. We're launching The Division, and we have Ghost Recon, For Honor and another new IP on the horizon. Now we have to deliver on all of these great franchises and make sure they have the level of quality and innovation that gets players excited and coming back for more."

ace3001
03-09-2016, 12:12 PM
Ubisoft also saw the potential to empower open worlds and sandbox play by adding to those experiences a persistent online connection between worlds and players.

If this is the future for Assassin's Creed as well, then it'll sadly be the end of my time as an Assassin's Creed fan. I like playing games at my own pace on my own time. If I want to take a break even in the midst of a heated battle, I pause and do so. If I want to enjoy story cutscenes without skipping, I do so. Online play with others removes this convenience and introduces the possibility for others to ruin a game.

dxsxhxcx
03-09-2016, 12:38 PM
AC has potential to deliver an interesting multiplayer experience, but IMO they should release it as a standalone game and turn it into its own thing instead of put it together with the Single Player mode.

Sorrosyss
03-09-2016, 02:52 PM
If this is the future for Assassin's Creed as well, then it'll sadly be the end of my time as an Assassin's Creed fan. I like playing games at my own pace on my own time. If I want to take a break even in the midst of a heated battle, I pause and do so. If I want to enjoy story cutscenes without skipping, I do so. Online play with others removes this convenience and introduces the possibility for others to ruin a game.

It would depend on how it is implemented honestly. In The Division you can do the story missions solo or with others. We kind of already had this in AC with the co-op mode of Unity. It's just a case of scaling it up across the entire storyline, whilst offering both playstyles. As for pausing, well you just log out when you need to.


This screams episodic ******** to me, another nail in AC's coffin if true.

AC has potential to deliver an interesting multiplayer experience, but IMO they should release it as a standalone game and turn it into its own thing instead of put it together with the Single Player mode

They certainly could do it as a standalone multiplayer spinoff, but I feel the point to all of this is that they can offer solo and multiplayer playstyle switching on the fly. If they can do both, then all player types would be catered for.

Lets be honest though, AC has been episodic for awhile with DLC over the years. With the absence of multiplayer from Syndicate, there is not much to sustain gamer interest in the franchise - especially if we are now returning to two year gaps in titles. As with alot of MMOs, if there was new persistent content to play each month, it would retain players longer and enrich the fanbase experience for those waiting between titles. Thats certainly how I feel right now about AC, where I'm looking elsewhere - such as the comics - to keep myself engaged in the universe. It need not be like that, and frankly I'd rather pay for and play some DLC, than reading about the game world that I love.

MikeFNY
03-09-2016, 04:30 PM
As with alot of MMOs, if there was new persistent content to play each month ...
Can anyone of you kindly explain what we should be looking at when we talk about "persisten content"?

Until a year or so ago I didn't even know what a DLC is, now it seems we're looking at something different, maybe bigger?

Are we looking at something that will be part of the main story or a standalone DLC such as Undead Nightmare in RDR?

By the way, I'm with ace on the multiplayer issue, AC has always been single player, at least for me, and I would prefer it to stay that way. If multiplayer is to be added it should be completely separate from the main story.

Perk89
03-09-2016, 06:09 PM
No disrespect but I can honestly say I don't agree with most of what you said.

You're pushing Ubisoft to do things that they have not only put too much focus on in recent years, but aren't very good at it in the first place.

Anybody who has played an Ubisoft sgme in recent years can see how many elements they've "borrowed" form the likes of Bethesda and now CD Projekt-the problem is-Ubisoft simply doesn't do it as well as those companies (I'd argue laziness, as rather than fleshing out great characters and side stories. they simply add more collectibles and brag about the amazing amount of time you'll spend with the game) and here you are pushing them to drop what little focus on narrative they have left.

And for all the hubbub about 'The Division' being "the future of Ubisoft! the future of gaming!" the game has released to a pretty overwhelming response of "Good, not great."
As I said, you're encouragin them to borrow all these elements from the game, but it's something they've already done in recent years and it has resulted in a downward spiral for a number of their titles. I'm a number of hours into the Division and my character has yet to utter a single syllable to anybody in-game. I'm guessing that will hold true throughout the game-and do you know why that is? Because Ubisoft is more concerned with things lile "target demographics! great publicity! pie charts! than constructing a quality narrative. (

Maybe if the game was less diverse *gasp!* the game would be better. I had hoped to round up a friend or two and find out what happened to make this world as it is and confront lots of great lore and details along the way. Instead the game gives a 45 second intro of "scary" images showing what happened and then drops you right into so you can run around yet another world an Ubisoft has created with a bunch of different colored digital avatars.

We as consumers should be less concerned with what digital hue a computer generated anthromoprh takes and more concerned with absolute quality. Now you're pushing Ubisoft to take the idea and apply to what is supposed to be a narrative driven title-which has seen a massive and rapid downturn the past couple years because of the aforementioned lack of focus on narrative and story. Randomly crafting a character in an AC game would rob the last bit of personality the game has left and replacing that with generic unisex names for the character such as "Frye!" is just lazy and immersion breaking in the sense that I know what the developers are attempting to do.

I just don't agree with much you have to say for the simple reason that the precedent is there and it isn't good. I care more about spending my $60 on games that are fun and tell a great narrative rather than different colored NPCs or a random line about somebody's sexul orientation blah blah blah.


If you want the lead to be black, then make him black. Don't rob a game of strong protagonist and by extension the story and by extension of that, the game itself just so you can appease the idiot SJW masses.

Sorrosyss
03-09-2016, 08:39 PM
No disrespect at all! I dare say there are many more who disagree with me as well, but hey it's a discussion. ;)

I fully agree that CD Projekt Red is on another level narrative wise. I would say though that I don't believe AC's expansion of mechanics is primarily the cause for the decline in the narrative. I feel that is more from a lack of meta focus, with cutting out the modern day and a cohesive story direction. That, plus pushing games out the door before finishing their QA cycles (Hello again Unity).

I'll admit the silent protagonist in The Division is kind of annoying, but that's a simple thing to change. I'm not necessarily saying that the AC game should copy it ad infinitum, but the concepts and potential that could be applied is vast. As you say though, Ubisoft's record thus far does not fill one with confidence. But I like to dream of what could be if they actually took their time with it.

As for SJWs - I think it's more that the gaming industry needs to realise that there is more than young white men out there - which is the lead of near every game release these days. I'd argue that having a tailored storyline to your personal protagonist can and has been done successfully by other companies (Bioware and Bethesda), and really should not be a barrier to a good narrative. Again, it would be down to Ubisoft to implement it in a good fashion though. Perhaps I am too optimistic!

ace3001
03-09-2016, 08:58 PM
It would depend on how it is implemented honestly. In The Division you can do the story missions solo or with others. We kind of already had this in AC with the co-op mode of Unity. It's just a case of scaling it up across the entire storyline, whilst offering both playstyles. As for pausing, well you just log out when you need to.Logging off is not the same at all as playing at one's own pace.
That aside, multiplayer being separate is cool, that's it's own thing, and those who like it can play it. But shoehorn that into the main storyline, and the narrative that's already suffering like hell thanks to Ubisoft being, as another person pointed out,
more concerned with things lile "target demographics! great publicity! pie charts! than constructing a quality narrative"
Those of us who got into AC before MP was ever a thing got in because the story, the lore, the world that it built was all interesting. MMOs aren't built for that. MMOs focus on being timesinks, grinding, giving players things to do in repetition, over and over again. Take AC in that direction, and it will either die or become just another MMO where addicted people grind all day with a piss poor excuse for a story in the background. Story and multiplayer don't go together, and without the story, Assassin's Creed is nothing.

As for having a tailored storyline to your personal protagonist, your examples being Bethesda and Bioware, Bethesda has never made games with good stories. There's a lot of good in their games, but good story is not one of those. The story in Bethesda games is merely an excuse for people to run around the large open worlds they create. BioWare, on the other hand, don't create stories that depend on what the character's personal background is. While it may lead to a few sidequests, the main storyline will happen exactly the same regardless of what your character is. So there's no tailored storyline to your personal protagonist there.

SixKeys
03-09-2016, 09:02 PM
And for all the hubbub about 'The Division' being "the future of Ubisoft! the future of gaming!" the game has released to a pretty overwhelming response of "Good, not great."

To be fair, that's exactly what happened with the first Assassin's Creed.

ace3001
03-09-2016, 09:15 PM
To be fair, that's exactly what happened with the first Assassin's Creed.

What? While it won't stand scrutiny by today's standards, the first Assassin's Creed was released to pretty good reviews and overall reception. And it wasn't even hyped as Division. That was a while before Ubisoft's hype machine started running at full swing.

ze_topazio
03-09-2016, 11:48 PM
The Division is learning from Assassin's Creed.

https://scontent-mad1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xtf1/v/t1.0-9/12790907_1710992292475710_7605946295383479737_n.jp g?oh=2c54461418a2ca14b6aec13df6238f4a&oe=57946EE6

Sushiglutton
03-10-2016, 11:09 AM
If this is the future for Assassin's Creed as well, then it'll sadly be the end of my time as an Assassin's Creed fan. I like playing games at my own pace on my own time. If I want to take a break even in the midst of a heated battle, I pause and do so. If I want to enjoy story cutscenes without skipping, I do so. Online play with others removes this convenience and introduces the possibility for others to ruin a game.


Yeah this would be a nightmare scenario. Rather than eliminating the feel of factory made content they just gonna add an online layer on top. Not interested. Hopefully this will not be part of the vision for Empire.

cawatrooper9
02-14-2017, 04:31 PM
Excited to give For Honor a try today. Having played in both betas, I honestly think that the combat system in For Honor could actually work pretty well in AC. The parry system doesn't feel all that dissimilar to Unity's, except that it's obviously much deeper- in Unity, you only had to press a button, while in For Honor, weapon placement is necessary.

The only issue is that it's obviously a slower form of combat than we're typically used to. This could be a weird difference between the fast paced "stabby stabby run" kind of combat that we're used to, and might slow the game down a little too much.

In a "Templar's Creed", though, I think it'd feel right at home. A little slower, a little more bruisey- sounds perfect.


Also, how do we feel about the grunts in Dominion? They're kind of fun to massacre, but I don't know if anything like that has a place in Assassins Creed. Weirdly, they're the almost the exact opposite of the heroes- grunts would be killed way too easily in AC, throwing off the game by making combat too fast. Though, I guess in certain situations, they might be cool- for instance, it would've been neat to throw Connor into the middle of a battle in ACIII full of grunts as inept as that and just let him go ham.